Bans in place for wrestlers
JAPAN’S sumo giants have been banned from playing golf and to strictly obey traffic laws as the country’s ancient sport gears up for its formal return from a damaging boutfixing scandal.
Sumo officials are turning the screw after being given the government’s go-ahead to hold its first tournament since a sting operation led to 25 wrestlers and trainers being fired.
“This is really the start so I want the wrestlers to be braced for it,” Japan Sumo Association chairman Hanaregoma said yesterday.
“I want them to go into battle feeling the nerves. There will be no playing golf and they will be told to adhere to the rules of traffic.”
Following a serious traffic accident some years ago, wrestlers were banned from driving and they will also have their mobile phones confiscated for the July 10-24 Nagoya tournament.
Accusations of match-fixing are not unheard of in sumo but text messages discovered on mobile phones tipped off the JSA and sparked the latest public relations disaster. Mass sackings, arrests and convictions in gambling, drug use, gang crime and assault cases have also plagued the sport.
Sumo’s privileged position of enjoying special tax breaks could still be at risk unless the sport cleans up its act.